Donald MacInnes: Surprise, Surprise! There is a limit to American overspending
Donald MacInnes writes Tales from the Water Cooler, which can be found every Saturday on page 2 of i. And, although a financial near-imbecile, he writes a weekly column in The Independent’s Money section, also on Saturdays. He writes regularly on a broad range of subjects in i’s Freeview section and occasionally fills in on Simon Kelner’s daily column when emotionally up to it. @DonaldAMacInnes
Friday 06 December 2013
As we trudge ever onwards towards Santa's ghastly grotto, bearing that annual downcast air; heading for yet another financial cavity search of Christmas spending, I thought it timeous that I address some possible differences between how we approach emptying our bank accounts in celebration of the birth of Jesus (how apt, how suitable... not) and how our American third-cousins-twice-removed do so.
The reason for the pan-Atlantic comparison – and some of you may be aware of this – is that, as I write to you, I am ever-glad to be near the Everglades in south Florida, still managing to do my best to hide from the Yule-ish, goulish assault on my wallet from British retailers desirous of my hard-accrued groats.
Mind you, however much I try to put it off, there will come a time (essentially, I suppose, when my Virgin jet takes off from Miami later today) when I will have to suck it up, man up and take up the reins of my personal sleigh and do my best to guide it safely through the melting icebergs of financial restraint.
While many of you will have been Christmas shopping for what may seem like the best part of a year, America really only got started last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving; the day they call Black Friday.
I wrote about Black Friday in my i column last weekend. But to quickly recap, this is the day which, for most Americans, fires the starting gun on the festive shopping madness. Thanksgiving may fall a mere matter of weeks before Christmas but it definitely provides a speed bump in the year-round excesses of debiting and crediting.
In the lead-up to this celebration of founding fatherhood, this ancient pilgrimage, Christmas is not often discussed. All thoughts are fixated on the arrival of family, on which particular mountain ranges of food to prepare and on the communal offering up of genuinely humble appreciation that they are lucky enough to be living in the most prosperous land of them all.
On the back of that come many, many commercials flagging up Black Friday and the following Cyber Monday, bookends to the Thanksgiving weekend of sitting about not doing very much. Cyber Monday, of course, is the perfect way to round off a weekend of sedentary pleasures, involving as it does just as much rampant consumerism as the previous Friday, but all done from the comfort of your couch.
While the assumption always persists that in the land of the free (market), spending will always continue to go up and up, there was a surprise in store (I'll say!) this morning, when sales figures for Black Friday were announced. It seems that the all-American appetite for non-stop spending actually does have a ceiling. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans this year spent $57.4bn (£35.03bn) over the Black Friday weekend, down from last year's $59.1bn (36.06bn). That saw consumers spend an average of $407.02 (£248.36), down from $423.55 £258.45) last year. Who would have thunk it?
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Mark Dampier: Don't panic. Canny investors sit tight when the stock market falls
Shareholders can hold a company to account
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
The opera singer, the broadband delay and why customers aren’t divas if they expect a good service
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
iJobs Money & Business
£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
Day In a Page
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village